What is it like to die?

I can't go on, I'll go on.

- Samuel Beckett

 

 

One of the unusual aspects of these conversations is that one of the people having them has clinically died! This presented an interesting double-edged sword in our inquiry. On the one hand, Rob's NDE offered a view into one perspective on the emotional, psychological, physiological and spiritual experience of dying. So often, this perspective was illuminating, provocative, and a powerful invitation into deep questions and awake presence. Yet, his experience also offered the possibility of becoming reified as a reference point for what death is, and what comes after life. You'll see, as you watch, that this reification was something we made conscious and avoided, at times through naming it directly, and at others through humor (Doug calling Rob the"master dier"). 

The videos below therefore have a flavor of meandering between Doug's experience of approaching death, and Rob's experience of having died and living close to death throughout his life. Sometimes they are specific about Rob's experiences in and after death, but often they hover just at the edge of too much specificity, preferring instead a delicate pointing-towards over the answer. The exchanges between both of them are often captivating as an inquiry, as stories, and as an example of how we can become intimate with others through the dying process.

 

One note: on the epilogue page, Rob and Lauren have an extended conversation (after Doug's death), which includes further discussion of Rob's experience after death.    

May 15, 2018

0:30 - Moving towards negative emotion

4:02 - Working with panic and dread in the body

6:45 - All of life is like a thin veil, so easily punctured

8:20 - The brutality of dying

10:19 - The other side

16:14 - Life and death aren't separate

20:25 - There's not an audience anymore

22:22 - How is life shaped by dying?

June 1, 2018

0:40 - What are your grateful for?

2:37 - Boredom and aloneness

5:36 - The release of dying

11:01 - Integrity and despair

July 13, 2018

0:00 - Where was the part of you that knew you were dead?

1:29 - Radical liberation

5:55 - Full participation with reality

8:30 - I am cancer, I am not cancer

11:00 - When are you at war, my friend?

Questions to consider on your own

How do you feel when you imagine dying?

When you let go of life’s pursuits, what happens?

What expectations do you have about how you will respond to dying?

What are you experiencing right now?

© 2023 by Lauren Tenney & Rob McNamara